Sometimes it’s difficult to toot the horn of our generation, but here we’ll toot toot away for the modern music video. Reclaimed from the hands of MTV and Much Music, the music video is back and arguably better than ever, thanks to the power of the Internet. Harnessing the powers of viral spreads of information to become one of the most viable mediums for artists today, there are a few leaders of modern music videos today that transcend some of the generic staples making the rounds these days (I’m looking at you eerie nostalgic grainy VHS video.)
We decided to narrow down the list to five directors, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else sucks, we just think these people represent and define current trends. If we missed anyone, let us know! So, without further ado, here are five great modern music video directors.
The Great Nordic Sword Fights
With the look of a charming imported PS2 game only at its alpha stage, proudly flaunting its glitches and bugs, directors The Great Nordic Sword Fights take advantage of messy machines for their digitally lush videos. Their electronic devolution aesthetics follow the forward thinking electronic artists they create videos for, from Tomas Barfod and Birdy Nam Nam. Plus, they’ve already got a mascot in the egghead avatar Barfod lookalike.
Tom Scharpling is already a modern comedy icon thanks to his weekly podcast The Best Show on WMFU, and he’s recently taken his comedic sensibilities into the realm of music videos. And as expected, they are masterpieces in the ridiculous, the hilarious and the surreal. Centring on an insane premise, whether it be the origin story to The New Pornographers, or Aimee Mann finding a replacement Aimee Mann to tour for her, or Ted Leo and the Pharmacists attempting to make their own “American Idiot” style play, Scharpling enlists a who’s who of comedians, actors, and best friends to create some insanely fun videos.
If you’re looking for the highest of high concepts and technically dazzling displays of sublime beauty, look no further than Nabil Elderkin. Working with some of the most high profile artists today, he’s created ambitious videos for the likes of Nas to Bon Iver to Frank Ocean and Kanye West. Elderkin is the guy you call if you’re looking to make an artistic statement. Or, more likely, you have money to spend on something extravagant.
Emily Kai Bock
Her breakout “Oblivion” video for Grimes was just one of Emily Kai Bock’s bizarre and fascinating music videos; over the past year she’s demonstrated herself as one of the most exciting forces in music videos. She has a unique gift for creating visually arresting characters that relay incredible complexity without ever speaking a word, and placing them in situations that seem poised to collapse into chaos at a moment’s notice. Like Harmony Korine, she has an acute sense for identifying the hellish moments of lower-middle class life and making them uniquely surreal and unforgettable.
I’ve only seen one of Sus Boy’s videos (the techno-phallic “Suicide Mission”) but his ability to merge the worlds of Internet art and movies made in high school is something odd and compelling. It’s what makes his style, a successful convergence of irony and wide-eyed sincerity, so intriguing.